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Indonesian Catholics disappointed over no new cardinal

Country already has a cardinal but being over 80 is ineligible to vote in a conclave

Indonesian Catholics disappointed over no new cardinal

A file image inside Jakarta Cathedral during Mass. (Photo by AFP)

There has been widespread disappointment among Catholics in Indonesia when the country was passed over in the latest round of cardinal appointments.

It is the third time since being elected that Pope Francis has promoted other Asian bishops ahead of those in Indonesia; this time he named new cardinals in Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia's neighbor, Papua New Guinea.

The predominantly Muslim country has only one cardinal who is 81 and in poor health. Cardinal Julius Riyadi Darmaatmadja, retired Jakarta archbishop, was named cardinal in 1994.

He participated in the 2005 conclave when Pope Benedict XVI was elected and retired as Jakarta archbishop in 2010 at the age of 75. In 2013, for health reasons, he couldn't participate in the conclave that elected Pope Francis.

"Honestly, I am a little disappointed," Pankrasius Niksan, a Catholic layman working for Jakarta Archdiocese's Commission for Catechetics, told on Oct. 10.

"We won't have a participant in the conclave to elect the next pope because the only cardinal we have is over 80. It's also a prestige for the church in Indonesia to have cardinals," he said.

On Oct. 9, Pope Francis named 17 new cardinals from 14 countries, 13 of the new cardinals are younger than 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a pope.

"We do hope there'll be a new cardinal from Indonesia one day soon because Cardinal Darmaatmadja is very old," said Niksan, who is also a parishioner from St. Joseph Church in Matraman, East Jakarta.

"The number of Catholics in Indonesia continues to grow, and this is also a reason why we need a new cardinal," he said.

For Yohanes Baptista Inocenty Loe, a Divine Word seminarian, the pope's decision was correct. "So if I'm asked whether or not I am a little disappointed … not really. The pope has the right to name anyone cardinal," he said.

Joannes Joko, secretary general of the Association of Catholic Graduates and Intellectuals in Indonesia, said that the country has some bishops with good intellectual capability who could be promoted.

"Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo of Jakarta is an example. He's under 70. It means we have the potential for a new cardinal who is still productive," he said.

According to Franciscan Father Antonius Eddy Kristiyanto, a lecturer in church history at the Jakarta-Based Driyarkara School of Philosophy, the country only has one cardinal "because it's related to the small number of Catholics."

According to data from the Atma Jaya Catholic University of Indonesia, the country has only about 9 million Catholics out of a total population of nearly 250 million.


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